Building in Public January 21, 2021

Stop "building in public"

Yehuda Brickman @yehuda

I see way too many people who make grand announcements about how they're starting to build in public. I, personally, think that it's the same delusion that people have when they think that their big product hunt launch is going to blow them up.

It's not.

Announcing that you're building in public means nothing.

Just go ahead and start building in public. Start writing posts about challenges that you've overcome. Post updates about what you've done to grow and further your business. Let people know what you've learned the past week while building. All of this is much more valuable content than saying "Hey, look at me, I'm building in public".

If you're REALLY building in public, people will know cause they'll see, there won't be need to announce it to anyone.

  1. 31

    I personally would like to see both. A public commitment and the practice of doing it.

    I believe that for some people, this initial public display is a way to hold themselves accountable. Some of us can do this inherently through discipline, some of us need external feedback and encouragement to take the step. Just like we learn differently, we commit differently.

    1. 7

      That's a great perspective Arvid.

      I 100% agree with that, but see too many people who that isn't true for. They talk too much about building in public but never actually talk about "the building" - in public.

      That doesn't provide any value to them or anyone else.

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        I wonder if we can find a way as a community to help those founders actually do the work. Accountability groups maybe?

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          First, thanks for the follow!

          And interesting thought, I'm thinking that it'd have to be smaller efforts. I remember a while ago on here people were grouping off to hold each other accountable.

          The way I see this working is small local (or not local but small, online) groups of people together who hold each other accountable.

          Another option which is always good is gamification. A platform where you can't break your streak of posting. Every day you get a notification with a question prompt and it cross posts a video, text and image to Tik Tok, Twitter and Instagram combining those 3 elements. There'd be a history of the content on the app/platform as well and you'd have a score board to see who has the longest streak (which can be weekly, monthly, yearly and so on - or it can be relative to when you joined so people grandfathered in aren't at a disadvantage).

          What do you think?

          1. 1

            Inspired by your idea of gamification, I made a quick leaderboard for #buildinpublic for Twitter!

            https://bipleaderboard.netlify.app

            I have a script that streams for any tweets that have #buildinpublic hashtag. It will keep track of your streaks if you tweet #buildinpublic daily.

            Currently it'll only show the top 100 ranks. I'm thinking maybe we should be able to search for our rank even if we're not in the top 100. What do you think @yehuda?

          2. 1

            Sounds like wip.co (minus the other social platforms you mentioned)

    2. 1

      True that. Agree that some people need more push and motivation and by announcing, it kind of "force" them to be accountable for what they have announced/promised. Otherwise they'll look bad.

  2. 10

    I actually agree but people will be people. To me it’s the same as people who have the mindset that if they don’t post on social media that they’re going to the gym, then there’s no point going.

    Everyone is seeking virtual approval.. a virtual Pat on the back.

    1. 2

      Ya, delayed gratification is really important to master if you want to build something big. Too many people need instant positive feedback to continue (and even then, for most that's enough and they just stop).

    2. 1

      While this might be true, when talking about business maybe they also think that by announcing "building in public" might lead to more exposure.

  3. 6

    You make a good point. I know someone who's been announcing that "they will start" building in public... for like two and a half years. One grand proclamation after another... for almost 150 weeks. It's like, "Buddy, just build this thing or go away." It's starting to feel scammy.

    I shouldn't care (and, fundamentally, I don't) but it creates the impression that one is more interested in being perceived as being an entrepreneur or hacker, than in actually taking on the challenges involved in those things and growing.

    It devalues one's word and creates the opposite impression of what is hoped.

    1. 1

      one is more interested in being perceived as being an entrepreneur or hacker, than in actually taking on the challenges involved in those things

      Amen

  4. 3

    I don't think this is very constructive.

    Building in public is a way to brand an idea -- to release early and release often.

    To not fear criticism but rather embrace it.

    To show that the path to success is paved with the small cobblestones of failure.

    Maybe we should make a rant group. Lord knows I could contribute there as well :-)

    1. 2

      Haha, I didn't think this wasn't a rant - but thanks for the reply. I'm super down to create an Indie Rants group here in IH if you wanna join? Anyone else reading this who's interested reach out to me and let's do it!

      We need 10 people to start.

      The title is clickbaity, but it worked - currently I'm at the top of IH.

      It was supposed to try and encourage people to start building and talking about it, not to talk about the "building in public", but to talk about the "building" - in public, get the difference?

      1. 1

        I see -- but you really set the tone with that ClickBait. hahah.

        Count me in. Provide link. I click. We rant.

        1. 1

          Awesome, gonna post it here - quick question - "Indie Rants" for the group name or just "Rants"?

          1. 1

            I like Indie Rants -- keep it on topic to the IH themes

              1. 1

                lol, I joined, this is probably gonna be fun.

  5. 2

    Hey @yehuda, I appreciate the perspective. I think what most people are looking for when they say they are building in public is the "how" which you have provided.

    -> "Start writing posts about challenges that you've overcome. Post updates about what you've done to grow and further your business. Let people know what you've learned the past week while building."

    I think for people who are just starting out (like me) there is a need for other people who are further along in the process to encourage and provide direction. They look to fill that need through communities like IH and Twitter.

  6. 2

    Unpopular opinion: building in public is also the best way to getting copied (see
    how Headlime got copied several times, but also @levelsio,
    @dr, @alexwestco...)

    Even though it's inevitable to attract copycats at some points of success, I've noticed that it's not necessarily a good idea to share every of your metrics with everyone.

    You will get attention by being transparent, but mostly from other fellow makers, some of them craving for new ideas to try and replicate. I'd be careful when sharing stuff, even though it's a fact that your execution and perseverance cannot be copied as easily your idea. That's why most copycats fail after some months.

  7. 2

    I think people should do whatever works best for them, not follow advice for anyone that don't understand where they are coming from.

  8. 2

    In other words: Stop announcing and start Doing, then ask for feedbacks.

  9. 2

    The people you are alluding to are more interested in being "Tech Startup Founders" than they are about building businesses that will help their clients.

  10. 2

    Thanks for saying it! This is gold and a great reminder to everyone!
    It is the same as doing personal branding, you don't need to say you're doing that.
    I need to find ways to incorporate this into my guide!

    1. 1

      Replied to your reply to @unremute's comment but thanks!

  11. 2

    @kevon shared a "build in public" guide just a few days ago, here it is: https://twitter.com/kevon69/status/1350986857597837314?s=20

    1. 2

      Thanks for sharing the guide! @unremute - this is a really good point that I want to include in the guide 👍

      1. 1

        Looks like an awesome guide - can't wait to read it once I get to it.

        Toasty looks really awesome, did you guys get a massive boost with the pandemic and everyone moving to working from home?

        1. 1

          I actually stopped working on Toasty since Oct because I didn't see a sustainable way to scale the angel-backed startup. Also to take a break to welcome my newborn haha!

          I'm writing the part 2 now, hope it helps in any way!

          1. 1

            Congratulations on the newborn!

            Just read the beginning but looks super awesome already. Good luck with part 2!!!

  12. 1

    I think a lot of posts on here explain why different people make this claim. It's just your opinion, but be mindful to new members or those that may have a need to explore options like this for reasons that help them succeed.

  13. 1

    Just launched my build in public page for yuphub - Build a great reputation with reviews and testimonials.

    https://yuphub.com/build-in-public

    Announcing build in public, just incase people didn't know about it. ; )

  14. 1

    Just go ahead and start building in public. Start writing posts about challenges that you've overcome. Post updates about what you've done to grow and further your business. Let people know what you've learned the past week while building. All of this is much more valuable content than saying "Hey, look at me, I'm building in public".

    So... Build in public?

  15. 1

    I’m going to really start working out and getting back in shape!

  16. 1

    So true - inspired me to create a thread here on IndieHackers.

    If you're serious about building in public let's hold each other accountable!

    Post your biweekly updates here 👇
    https://www.indiehackers.com/post/biweekly-retrospective-january-21st-2021-e5c678e9cf

  17. 1

    There is something really important to follow (when you can) when you develop a video game: "show, don't tell".

    This could be applied to many things, including building in public.

  18. 1

    I have my doubts that probably 80% if not more are just trash talkin'. For some it's encouraging, but no one building in public says what was the amount of work they've put to get there, therefore recycle bin :)

  19. 1

    yeah, and also ,ppl stop adding "AI" in every products just because there are some "if...else" loops in the code.

  20. 1

    Can I offer a slightly alternative view (though I do agree it's getting annoying!).

    First, as arvidkahl said, its a good way to hold yourself accountable, and set expectations for your customers/readers.

    But secondly, and more importantly it builds a culture that is accepting of failure. I come from law/government background where building in public is basically forbidden. If its not perfect keep it to yourself. It means that there is no innovation, and no creativity.

    A lot of the business world is like that - but if they say 'building in public' a lot, it might start to shift the culture towards being okay to make mistakes as long as you are honest, reflect and learn from those mistakes.

  21. 1

    There really is no substitute for building something of real value. I enjoyed your conclusion. When looking to attract technical enthusiasts (to reference Crossing the Chasm) discussing your challenges and progress as you say is a great strategy. It's working quite nicely for us.

    On the other hand, when you some business people of a certain generation, their approach is to operate in stealth until they're ready to launch - which is usually never.

    Building in public is a good antidote to this complex that says 'oh no we must keep everything secret in case someone steals our wonderful idea'.

    But yea, calm down on the announcing it front! haha.

  22. 1

    I'm commenting in public. Here it is:

    Think this depends there's nothing wrong with it per se but you need to be honest to yourself that you do it for the right reasons.

    I can post on instagram because I want attention or I just genuinely like photography etc.

    I can say I'm doing it and have that motivate me but if I then don't follow up on it I will just look like an idiot.

    On the other hand it can create something to hold me accountable.

    So different things for different people as long as the results check out? 🤔

  23. 1

    This advice assumes that the tech product is the real product. For some, building in public is the real product. The Kardashians have shown that doing it all in public can be a successful product...

    1. 1

      If you read the post you'll see that you should build in public - it was more of a clickbaity title to get readers in (and it worked). Building in public is extremely useful, the problem is so many people do it by announcing that they're building in public, and doing it in the way they think it should be done instead of doing it naturally.

    1. 1

      Thanks!

      I took a look at your color generator and have a few ideas for it that I'd love to discuss - if you want, email me and I'd love to schedule something, my email is in my profile

      1. 1

        Yeah sure I would love to discuss with you ! will mail to you.

    1. 1

      Thank you! Love your hustle selling invite codes - that's awesome!

  24. 1

    I think we see this phenomenon a lot because it feels weird to post things if you know that no one will be listening, as you have no audience yet.
    When announcing that you're going to build in public, it seems like people will start to listen to you after that. Of course, they probably won't because you still don't have any content. 🤷‍♂️

    1. 1

      Exactly, hit the nail on the head Fabian.

      If anything, it'd be better to post 6 or 12 months down the line announcing "HEY EVERYONE, I've been building in public for the past year, what do you think?".

      Good luck with computer science! If you're looking to work with someone on a project as a developer, hit me up on my email, I have a few ideas I'd love to run by you.

    1. 2

      Thanks Maeva, and thanks for the follow!

      Looks really cool and love the name, good luck

    1. 1

      Haha, thanks for replying - I think I saw wishpy on HN a while ago, really cool!

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        Giving longer answer to your post -- I agree. This kind of announcing feels like people after New Year's Eve saying "I'm going to go to the gym" or "run a marathon" 🤓

        1. 1

          Yup, exactly, stop talking and put in the work!

      2. 1

        What? I hope it wasn't mine as I wasn't posting it there 😅 (I'm not ready yet)

        1. 1

          Haha, maybe it wasn't but it was for sure the same idea. Based on the replies and comments on that post there's a massive audience itching for something like this so good luck!

          1. 1

            Thanks!

            In case you will see that post again please let me know :)

            Cheers!

    1. 2

      Thanks Augis - umm, QLO looks super insanely cool!!!

    1. 1

      Thanks for the reply Anil!

      Love your data analysis products, really cool concept - have you considered providing a service where you scrape data from wherever people want for a fee?

      1. 1

        That's nice of you, I'm not good with people, so I avoid offering services.

        1. 1

          Haha, that's awesome - much respect for knowing your weak points and being able to admit it!

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